I just took a trip and was looking for a good book-on-cd that could keep me awake during the drive. Sometimes it takes a special kind of book-on-cd to make a long drive seem short and keep you awake.

"Garlic and Sapphires: the secret life of a critic in disguise" by Ruth Reichl has been a delightful surprise to listen to. I thought, when I first picked it off the shelf, that it was a non-fiction book but after listening to several cd's, I began to wonder if it was fiction. The characters are so vivid and outlandish that I couldn't believe they were real people. I had to come back to the library to find out that it is a non-fiction book! These people are real!

Ruth Reichl was the food critic for the New York Times and her way of writing makes you feel that you are right there in the restaurant experiencing the meal with her. Her style of reviewing restaurants was completely different than her predecessor at the New York Times. As described in the Salon Interview "Reichl has quickly won a passionate readership by paying attention to issues that Times' critics have traditionally overlooked. She has written from an outsider's perspective about the snobbery and pretension of some well-known New York restaurants, and she has delved into the sexism that often confronts women while eating out. Gone are the days when only old-school French restaurants such as Lutece, La Grenouille and Aureole ranked highly in the Times' zero-to-four star rating system. Merely by eating the way most food-happy people in New York do — Chinatown one night, a French restaurant the next, a tiny-but-miraculous Greek place in Queens the next — Reichl has been a real democratizing force."

The book has been full of food - recipes included - and its hard to believe some of the things she has eaten. We will probably never see them in any restaurant here. She eats a lot of truffles (mushrooms) and faie gras (duck liver). Many times she dresses in disguise so no one will know who she is and give her special treatment. The way she describes the food is ecstasy. I came home wanting to find out more about her and if she'd written any other books. She has several books out, one of my other favorites is "Tender to the Bone", about her wacky family from New York. If you want to know more about Ruth, check out her website at

This is also available as a quality paperback.


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